Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Old Poems

Here are some poems I wrote in the first two years of this century. Now and again I look through my old poetry manuscripts, and the passage of time makes me a little less severe on them than I was previously. I've changed a few lines.


(I used to think that a True Poet should confine himself to the most banal occurences of everyday life. This poem was inspired when I was sitting on a train and I noticed that, when the train began to move, a woman changed seat so she was looking in the direction in which it was moving. I thought this was symbolic of how future-oriented we are as a species.)

The train began to move. She realized
She faced the country being left behind;
She changed her seat so she could look ahead.

The newspaper the man behind he read
Was filled with some sensation of the kind
Forgotten by next month.

Nothing is prized,
Nothing is real like that phantom field,
The future. Women's arms reach out to hold
The newborn baby. Men nine decades old
Speak less of them than what today will yield.

The country that we lust for lies upstream
Worth reaching, though with broken heart and health.
Tomorrow is everybody's greatest wealth,
Most precious when it shimmers like a dream.

The Doll's House

(I think this is fairly self-explanatory. I used to burn with envy when my cousins and sisters got doll's houses and Barbie buses. But then, I had Subbuteo, so...)

She's looked at the Aurora Borealis;
St. Peter's Dome; gorillas in the wild;
And thrilled to none of them the way she thrilled
To find a doll's house standing by her bed
One Christmas morning when she was a child.

That hour was Eden, Paradise unspoiled.
Inside that perfectly proportioned palace
Were tables set, and bedrooms carpeted,
And that elusive beauty only shared
By ships in bottles, cast-iron troops, and trains
That run through tiny towns. What house compared
In beauty, with these pygmy plates and chairs?

All raw reality is naught until
The soul has worked it, ordered, loved, distilled;
Its glories only raw material
For the more half-godly glories that we build.


Remember I was talking about my Europhobia a few weeks ago? Here it is in, in full bigoted flow.

To be fair, this poem isn't aimed at actual continentals. It's aimed at the kind of pretentious oafs who congregate in Dublin's Temple Bar (or the "cultural quarter" of any big city), go to arthouse cinemas, read awful free verse poetry (or pretend to read it), and so forth. It's an anti-hipster poem. I have always been, thank God, foursquare on the side of the squares.

This poem was partly inspired by an actual person, a gay Hungarian philosophy lecturer with whom I shared an apartment for ten days. I had to get out after that, he was completely neurotic about noise. The snapping point was when he left a note asking me to lock the bathroom door when I brushed my teeth. He had erotic drawings of nude men all over the living room walls.

He wasn't a bad guy, actually, (aside from that degeneracy), but he was insanely pretentious. We were once talking about films and he said he enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies, but "not in the way that most other people enjoy them." I thought this was the most pretentious comment I've ever heard. I think it still holds that honour.

You never got those muscles from hard work;
You never got that colour from the sun.
We have no boulevardes here, God be praised,
But you and your amigos, all unfazed,
Sip your lattes in view of everyone
Greeting the world with an ironic smirk.

You know what art is; something strange and new.
Leaving out capital letters. Nudity.
Above all, not what makes a housewife cry.
Sometimes there's a big movie you'll enjoy
But you and Them enjoy it differently--
Panting Parisians mean more to you.

Where did you come from? It's as if you stepped
Out of the pages of some magazine.
Only a hot-house holds such freakish flowers.
True beauty grows through centuries, not hours;
You lie like froth along your fresh-ground "scene",
Taking the merest shallows for the depth.